Dr. Xinli Wang Professor of Philosophy
Juniata College

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Who Am I?

"Know thyself."
-- Socrates

Who am I? I am not a "given." After I was "thrown into" this world, my life has been a never-ending journey of a restless soul striving for self-realization. Like any other human being, I could only realize myself in a certain social and historical setting; I could only realize myself through interaction with others and through others' recognition (we all live in some sense for others). Like anyone, through my life I have been wrapped up with a variety of labels that are recognizable by others and associated with my name, "Xinli Wang." Here are some of those Xinli labels:

A Chinese:  I was born as a Chinese and would like to keep it that way.

A peasant: After graduating from high school in the middle of the 70s, I (like most of my young classmates at the time) was forced to leave home and go live in a small village in a remote barren mountain area. The purpose was to receive reeducation from the poor, the low, and the middle peasants (they were supposed to be the extension of the proletarian class that was in power) in order to get rid of any possible influence from the "bourgeois" or capitalism. Like all other peasants, I had to work ten or twelve hours a day in the field. Since there was no electricity, machines, or running water in the village, we did all the works by our hands and shoulders. Introspectively, I have learned a lot from this thee-year hardship. My basic character and my unique philosophy of life were formed during that period.

A student switching from science to philosophy: To respond to the call of my country that was on the edge of economic collapse at the end of a ten-year national turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966--1976), I decided to study natural sciences in order to make a concrete contribution to my beloved country. But after finishing my B.S. in geophysics and teaching geophysics at a small college for three years, I realized that my heart still belonged to philosophy, which I was very fond of during my three years as a farmer. Successfully passing the admission test, I was admitted to the Master Program in Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China to study philosophy. A few years later, I was determined to receive a better training on contemporary Western analytical philosophy. In the fall of 1990, I found myself sitting in the seminar rooms with other Ph.D. students of the philosophy program in the University of Connecticut, US.

A teacher: I am currently an assistant professor teaching philosophy in a small liberal arts college, lovely Juniata College, located in beautiful central Pennsylvania. Prior to my appointment at Juniata in 1999, I spent two years as a visiting professor at Trinity College. Please check out my teaching portfolio.

An analytic philosopher: I was trained as an analytic philosopher with focus on Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language, and Philosophical Logic. Please check out my Recent Publications and Curriculum Vitae.


A married man: I have a charming wife, Ling, and a lovely daughter, Jenny. Our house is only a few blocks away from the campus. We enjoy country living.

An amateur tennis player: Although I started to learn tennis a few years ago, I have made steady progress since moving to Huntingdon.

Back to my original question, have I answered the question, "Who am I?" Of course not. Maybe this is because my life has not ended yet. Maybe one of Sartre's characters in his play No Exit is right, "One always dies too soon or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are your life, and nothing else."


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The page updated: June, 2008

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Email to: wang@juniata.edu.